Pipe band is marching to the same powerful tune

As the Chorley, Croft and Culcheth Pipe Band take part in parades, they are carrying on a Scottish tradition that dates back locally 55 years.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 13th July 2017, 3:53 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th July 2017, 8:25 am
Chorley, Croft and Culcheth Pipe Band during the Mayor's Parade
Chorley, Croft and Culcheth Pipe Band during the Mayor's Parade

The original band was formed in 1952 as St George’s CLB Pipe Band (Church Lads Brigade).

The founding Pipe Major was Robert Walkingshaw, a native of Fife and a former Pipe Major in the RAF during the Second World War before moving to Chorley.

Joe Swarbrick took on the role of Pipe Major in 1968, a post he was to hold for the next thirty years until 1998 with great success.

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Chorley, Croft and Culcheth Pipe Band at Chorley Town Hall

Generations of Chorley youngsters were tutored to play the bagpipes and drums, and over the decades the band was a regular feature at local events.

They also travelled further afield to win prizes for piping and drumming at prestigious events such as the British, European and World Championships.

In recent years the band has continued to train pipers and drummers to a competition standard, and were winners of the North West England Pipe Band Championships in 2010 and 2014.

In 2014 the Chorley Pipe Band evolved and amalgamated with the 70 Squadron Air Training Corps pipe band to become the Chorley, Croft and Culcheth Pipe Band.

Chorley, Croft and Culcheth Pipe Band at Buckingham Palace in 1958

This was due to an influx of new members from the north Cheshire area, and there are now more than 20 playing members in total.

The band takes part in a variety of engagements such as static displays, parades and competitions.

In recent times the current band has led the parade from Chorley Town Hall for both Remembrance Day in November, and the Mayor’s parade in May.

More than 15 of its members attended the Berlin Tattoo in November 2016, as well as performing at the 2015 Basel Tattoo and the 2014 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

Chorley, Croft and Culcheth Pipe Band at Chorley Town Hall

Members have even played at a Rod Stewart concert.

The calendar for this year includes trips to perform at prestigious events in Moscow and Malta, as well as venues closer to home like York Minster.

The band welcomes new members of all ages, and provides free tuition in piping and drumming skills.

Many of the current players first started as learners in their 40s, 50s and beyond.

Chorley, Croft and Culcheth Pipe Band at Buckingham Palace in 1958

The group also has several awards under its belt over the last few years, including second place grade 4 at the North West England quartet band contest; second place at the NW England quartet piping contest and fifth place in the All England Pipe Band competition.

Practices take place at Euxton Community Centre - which is a temporary venue - on Thursdays at 7.30pm and Croft Memorial Hall, Mustard Lane, Croft, Warrington, on Sunday mornings.

Pipe Major Kenny Smith said: “We are very proud of our history and are keen to honour that and try to emulate the level the band once enjoyed.

“We feel we are able to represent the communities of Chorley and Warrington to the highest standard possible and will always strive to push ourselves to be bigger and better.

“We run our own teaching programme and are able to offer tuition for the bagpipes, snare drum, tenor drum and bass drum. We offer spaces to all ages and abilities.

“We have made tremendous progression over the last few years and we are confident we will continue to go from strength to strength.”

John Myles, who has been a member for 18 months, adds: “Half the band is made up of Scots, whilst the rest are English.

“A lot are ex forces as well so for us it makes us feel like we have not lost our identity and keeps us together.

“It is a good age group and we all have a lot of fun.

“We are always looking for new members, especially drummers.”

Chorley, Croft and Culcheth Pipe Band is looking for sponsors and for a new venue for its Chorley rehearsals.

For more information visit www.cccpipeband.co.uk.